Carnival of souls: The Stand, Hans Rickheit, Chris Ware, more

* They’re making a movie of Stephen King’s The Stand, one of my favorite novels and already the basis for a pretty-darn-good-for-what-it-was TV miniseries. I think there are several potential pitfalls here. For one thing, you truly do need more than the length of a conventional theatrical movie to adapt this thing, but at the same time I’m not sure a rated-R post-apocalyptic survival-horror saga is the sort of thing that can sustain Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Harry Potter/Twilight-style multi-movie adaptations in box-office terms. Obviously Ron Howard and company are out to prove me wrong with The Dark Tower, but that series is also a fantasy and a Western and science fiction; The Stand is about everyone in the world dying from a biological weapon. I’m also not convinced that the two projects won’t cannibalize one another’s critical and audience and PR oxygen — I mean, without giving too much away, they have a lot in common. I’m also realizing I’m at an all-time low ebb in terms of my tolerance for big-budget Hollywood studio genre blockbuster filmmaking. But I’d be quite happy to see a good Stand movie or movies, certainly.

* It’s Hans Rickheit’s next book, Folly. I know a lot of people who’ve wanted to check out Rickheit’s minicomic series Chrome Fetus, and this is going to collect a lot of that material, so I expect it will go over well.

* The One Ring warns us that the talk about Hobbit creature designs in The New Yorker‘s recent profile of Guillermo del Toro should be taken with a grain of salt, since the interview predated del Toro’s exit from the production. I can’t think of a single cinematic phenomenon more overrated than del Toro’s supposed proficiency with creature design — the alleged complexity of Christopher Nolan movies, perhaps — so this is good news to me.

* To me, the meat of Clive Barker’s recent series of tweets is the forthcoming live-action teaser for his third Abarat book, not a supposed “return to directing” from Barker himself, which is what all the horror sites are talking about but which seems to me to stem from a possible misinterpretation of Barker referring to “my next movie.” After all, the guy has produced the last few adaptations of his work — he has a production shingle and everything — and I’m sure he considers those “his movies” too.

* Curt Purcell on the role of religion in Battlestar Galactica. I don’t want to spoil anything about the show, but speaking from a perspective of thoroughgoing irreligiosity, I’ve always felt that it took an almost willfully small-minded approach to the topic to find anything objectionable about how BSG treated faith and God as valid concerns. The howl of butthurt from the kinds of atheists who voluntarily turn off their brain at anything less obviously condemnatory of religion than Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred” joined in chorus with the Science Fiction Is Serious Business with Rules to Follow crowd to create an enormously dispiriting reaction to a show that deserved much better even from its critics. If you watch BSG and think that the series has shoved the Skyfather down your throat, I feel bad for you.

* Ken Parille’s Daniel Clowes Bibliography is really impressive. How great would it be if every major cartoonist had a similar resource?

* Gabrielle Bell wraps up her bedbug comic.

* The great Geoff Grogan has started a “Covered”-style blogathon of his very own. First up: Mike Ploog’s The Monster of Frankenstein #2.

* Still can’t quite get over that Frank Santoro and the Great Cartoonists of Los Angeles photo.

* Finally, I’ve only read half of it — parts one and three, even! — because I missed how it was paginated before I loaded the constituent parts onto my laptop for the train ride home from work, but Matthias Wivel’s interview with Chris Ware, conducted at the Komiks.dk festival in May 2010 and now published on The Comics Journal’s website, is an absolute pleasure. Page one, page two, page three, page four. Here’s a great bit:

MW: …something people often talk about in terms of your drawing style is that it’s kind of dispassionate, distanced, and I think that’s a very purposeful approach …

CW: I prefer the word ‘constipated.’
MW: Right. [Laughter from audience.] I wasn’t going to say it.
CW: Are you asking me why?
MW: Yeah, the choice of this very clean style.
CW: Well, again, it’s to try to get at sort of an ideographic style of drawing, a cartooning style of drawing. I think the closest analogy in the history of art would be Japanese prints, which are really not in any way representational — they’re all about how things are remembered. Their idea of perspective is not about how something is seen, it’s about how something is felt and remembered, and I try to get that in my work too. If I can use the word ‘work’; it makes me sound like I think I’m an artist. So, I don’t try to draw how things are seen, I try to draw how they’re remembered, I guess that is the best way to put it. And I don’t want them to be interesting lines or interesting drawings, because then my hand comes into it too much.
MW: Why is that a problem?
CW: Because I just think it’s harder to read, in the same way that I wouldn’t want to read Ernest Hemingway’s rough draft of one of his novels, I would want to read the typeset, clean version, because I don’t want to be aware of his handwriting or anything. Not that you couldn’t be, necessarily. It’s certainly interesting to see an author’s corrected proof — you can see his scratch-outs and things that are added in — but fundamentally the intention is to have it read smoothly. It’s the words that matter; it’s the story that matters, and fundamentally, I’m interested in the story…

Much much more where that came from.

3 Responses to Carnival of souls: The Stand, Hans Rickheit, Chris Ware, more

  1. Zom says:

    I can’t think of a single cinematic phenomenon more overrated than del Toro’s supposed proficiency with creature design — the alleged complexity of Christopher Nolan movies, perhaps — so this is good news to me.

    ^ This. Truth.

  2. I’d have to agree. The descriptions of his Lovecraft adaptation don’t inspire much enthusiasm either. He seems a bit like Tim Burton 2.0 in terms of the regard he’s held in by certain circles (i.e., “he’s one of *us*”). Maybe if you’re only exposure to creature design is the last Harry Potter or Star Wars film, they might seem more inspired, but I don’t see how anyone who has any exposure to comics, fantasy/horror/sci fi art, album cover art, etc. would rank his designs higher than mid-grade. But, hey, if you look at a lot of concept art for games and films, a great deal of it has that del Toro feel, so what do I know. 90% of the monsters in the games I play look like they stepped out of one of his notebooks – all teeth and tiny eyes and random angles. Even the Cloverfield monster felt like del Toro once it was revealed, which was disappointing to say the least after the swell way it was presented through most of the movie.

  3. Jim D. says:

    “I’ve always felt that it took an almost willfully small-minded approach to the topic to find anything objectionable about how BSG treated faith and God as valid concerns. The howl of butthurt from the kinds of atheists who voluntarily turn off their brain at anything less obviously condemnatory of religion than Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred” joined in chorus with the Science Fiction Is Serious Business with Rules to Follow crowd to create an enormously dispiriting reaction to a show that deserved much better even from its critics. If you watch BSG and think that the series has shoved the Skyfather down your throat, I feel bad for you.”

    +1,000,000

    Oh, you mean Moore/Eick WEREN’T like, kidding about the religion/God aspects that were mentioned in EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. of the series? I’m shocked.

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